Like it or not, there are a lot of social expectations out there for how we live our lives. That you should be in a relationship, have kids or opt into group activities to fit the “status quo” in our world. But these ways of living aren’t always a fit for everyone. Maybe you prefer to spend time alone. Or maybe you’re suddenly traveling solo in this part of your life’s journey. How we view alone time can vary widely based on our own nature, personality, preferences, environment and circumstances. So while a social network is important for our well-being, it is possible to have a little alone time—or a lot of it—and feel contentment in our lives.1,4 Let’s look at the different shapes that solitude can take and consider ideas to make alone time more comfortable.

What is solitude?

Solitude is often associated with loneliness. It can be thought of as a time when your main relationship is with yourself.3,4 Your focus is inward.3 You step away from the social demands and needs of others.3 You can enjoy time and space to relax, meditate, self-reflect and pursue a goal.3

Unwanted solitude

For some folks who spend time solo, their solitude may not be by choice. Maybe they have a mobility challenge or were in a relationship that ended. Maybe they moved away from their social community or haven’t found the people they click with. Some people feel socially isolated and lonely when alone.3,4 It can trigger emotional pain and stress that’s so strong it raises health risk factors.1,3

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Choosing solitude3,4

For some people, solitude offers a chance to feel a sense of freedom and be in control of yourself and your surroundings. When it’s by choice, spending time alone is rarely lonely and can feel restorative and energizing. When it feels good, it can be thought of as “positive solitude.” Some use the time to connect with nature or practice spirituality. Others might choose a recreational activity or hobby. The pause can renew your spirit for the challenges of day-to-day living.

Tips for navigating solitude2

Most everyone has periods of solitude in their life. Whether it’s by circumstance or by choice, here are some ways you can feel more empowered and comfortable during your downtime:

  • Find an activity to engage in, such as gardening, playing an instrument or reading a book
  • Reach out to family and friends via phone, email, text or video chat
  • Consider fostering or adopting a pet for companionship and to help you get more exercise, decrease stress, boost your mood and meet new people5
  • Stay physically active on your own, with a friend or through a group
  • Introduce yourself to your neighbors—you might even find that you have interests in common
  • Find a faith-based organization where you can deepen your spirituality and engage with others
  • Support a cause for your community, such as a town project or charity drive

Online mental health resources

Have questions about feeling alone? We can help. At Teladoc Health, we’ve made mental healthcare more accessible so that you don’t have to wait weeks for an appointment. With a virtual appointment, you can speak with a mental health counselor right from your home, your office or wherever you’re most comfortable. We’re here to help you get started today!

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Published August 28, 2023


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